If you have been following my Picasa Series, you'll know by now what an amazing all-around photo app that Picasa is (and free too!). This class will be about watermarking your photos. Watermarking is the overlaying of text onto your photo to dissuade others from using your work without your permission. Any photo on the internet can easily be saved by others and used in their own pages. Even if you were to go to the effort of programming and disabling the right-click/save-as option, there is still screen capture command that is all too simple to do.
Watermarking then is simply a deterrent to somebody who may be thinking about taking your work. If they take your photo, they also take the text that says it is your photo. Watermarking can be done by putting very visible text with your name and copyright text on the photo (usually in the bottom right corner). This pretty much says "hands off of my work AND I take it seriously." However this corner text is easily cropped off if somebody wanted to remove your reference. So a secondary option that you have is to overlay subtle (transparent) text on top of the main portion of the photo. This therefore is not removable by the crop command. In the sample photo on the right, I put both kinds of watermarks on the same photo.
If you are using transparent text as a watermark, consider the position of the text. I chose one of the corners of the photo so it isn't quite as detracting as right in the center of the frame. If you use large enough letters, it covers a big enough zone that you have severely limited a crop. Depending on if you are overlaying the text onto a light or dark area, you will want to use text that is correspondingly dark or light for proper contrast.
Can't somebody just photoshop out my watermark letters? Yes, of course they can. But it is going to take time for them to do it. If you strategically put your letters on more complex textures (instead of, say an area of solid fill color) this is harder to brush out and make it not obvious the photo was altered. Remember this is not going to prevent somebody snatching your photo, this is just going to seriously deter them from wanting to.
Now for the quick how-to instructions. Open your photo in Picasa and click the Text tool (on the left-hand tool palette under the "Basic Fixes" heading). Click somewhere in your photo approximately where you want your text (you can easily move it). Type in the text that you want to use. I would suggest either initials or a single word (in my case I put a space between each letter which I think helps visually soften the distraction of the watermark). Watermarking would otherwise be rather distracting from the true subject material that you are presenting. (I used ZMX which is part of my website branding call sign of TechZMX - BTW you can use that to follow me on Twitter!). Text objects in Picasa are easily moved (drag the object) and sized. To resize, click to select the text and drag the orange handle - right to enlarge, left to shrink. On the left-hand palette you can pick your Font and Color. Also, you will want to adjust the transparency factor. Slide the adjustment handle so the text fades out enough to be subtle but not too much that you can't see it!
In this sample, notice how the properties would be set for a light text on dark background option. I have set the text to white. Also, the transparency slider is on the high side of the middle mark whereas in the previous case is was on the low side of the middle marker.
If you have been taking my Picasa classes, you'll know by now but I need to make mention for those who don't know. Edits in Picasa are non-destructive (meaning the original JPGs are left unaltered). You need to do the Export command (bottom toolbar) to get a copy of your file that you will use. The Export command also lets you resize the graphic to be the optimal size (e.g. for web/blog).
Something else the Export command optionally does, is place watermark stamp text for you in the lower right corner of the image. This would especially be helpful if you needed to watermark a larger batch of files as it would do it automatically on each file. In my sample image, I'm using both kinds of watermarks (larger transparent text and the more descriptive stamp text in the lower corner) You can see what this looks like in the enlargement below.
So there you have some ideas about watermarking! The above techniques for adding text are also good for adding captions into your photos as well. If you want to learn more about Picasa, check out my Picasa Series. That link will list the other articles.
I'm also currently in the midst of a Video Series of articles on creating video presentations. Follow that link if you want to learn more. And as always, consider subscribing to my blog to keep up to date with the future articles that I post. I hope you learned something today in Craig's Classroom!